We LOVE road trips. Eighteen hundred miles with two boys in the car does not intimidate us. No sir, we're veterans. We've each road tripped as children, so it's in our blood. And we began our marriage with a road trip from Colorado to Annapolis, MD.
That was a wonderful way to begin a marriage, because of course, on the very first day, our car's alternator exploded on the beltway of St. Louis. Bang! And we have no headlights. No interior lights. Nothing of an electrical nature, not that there's a lot of electrical luxuries on a 1976 Volvo 242. The Engineer (who is also a wiz with cars, having taken two 1936's pickup trucks, and made one working vehicle, using the body of one and the engine of the other.) He knew right away that it was the alternator, and that if we stopped and turned off the engine, we'd never get it going again. Did I mention that it was after one in the morning and that we'd been searching for our hotel for quite some time? Now the search was a lot harder, what with not being able to read the map, or see the road for that matter. St. Louis apparently wanted to save some money, because the street lights were few and far between.
We finally found our hotel at about 2 am. We'd been on the road since 10 am (the previous day), and were bone tired. In the morning we called The Swede (my dad) for help. After all, he knew every Volvo dealer in the midwest, being District Manager for Volvo's largest district. It's nice having a well-connected dad. As soon as the dealership learned that we were on our honeymoon, and married one whole day, they rolled out the red carpet. A tow-truck was at our hotel IMMEDIATELY, and his cab was plenty big enough for both of us to ride along. Once at the dealership, we were chauffeured to a nice restaurant. By the time we were done eating and had been driven back to the dealership, our car had a new alternator and regulator (by the way, when you replace the alternator, always do the regulator, too. It had been a brand-new alternator that blew up when the old regulator stopped regulating.) And the repair was “on the house”. Congrats on your marriage they said.
(I have many more stories from our honeymoon summer, but YellowBoy said write about road trips, so I'll bring the focus back to that.)
You don't really enter the varsity division of road-tripping until you've done it with children. Antsy children in car seats. Children who throw up in rush hour traffic when you can't pull over. Children who literally drive you insane with the whole, “He's touching me!” “NO, he took my ________ and I want it BACK!” “Can I have a snack?” “How much further is it?” Somehow though, I still enjoy it. It's a combination of seeing the country unfold in front of me, realizing just how vast and varied it is. Getting to spy on really small towns, and listen to their gossip as you stop for a meal in their one restaurant, with amazing home-made everything. Having hours and hours to talk and plan with The Engineer. And stopping at those road side attractions you've seen multiple signs for. C'mon, who can resist seeing the world's largest groundhog (turned out to be made of cement, but nonetheless a groundhog as promised) and a seven-legged cow? (This one was real, a poor, tired cow with the birth-defect of three extra, boneless but not hoof-less legs growing next to the udder.)
It gets easier as they get older. Our trip to Texas was relatively painless, and the pool in Lubbock at the hotel was truly the largest indoor pool I'd seen. Our last trip to Annapolis not that bad, if you ignore the vomit. So it will be with maps in hand, and all the standard road-trip entertainment items (TV and Wii and laptops) properly hooked up, that we set off to Annapolis again. We're leaving on Friday in early afternoon and plan to be at brother DataBoy's fab guest suite by Sunday night. Most of the family will be gathering at the Briarpatch for one last time together before it's sold.
While on our trip, I don't know how often I'll be able to post, but I know that it will yield many stories. It's always a memorable when all the siblings and cousins and Aunt Risky get together. I hope you'll stick with me and keep reading as I'm able to post. I sure appreciate all of you and your encouragement. We'll be back on 6/12. (We're not out here yet though. I'll see you a few more times this week before we leave.)